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Shoreham air crash victim Mark Reeves had parked motorbike to photograph planes

Published 27/08/2015

People stop to read floral tributes near the A27 close to the scene of the Shoreham air disaster
People stop to read floral tributes near the A27 close to the scene of the Shoreham air disaster

A grandfather died in the Shoreham air disaster after parking his motorbike on the outskirts to take photographs of the planes, his family revealed.

Mark Reeves, 53, had never been to the Shoreham Airshow before tragedy struck when a vintage Hawker Hunter jet plummeted on to the A27 in West Sussex.

Computer-aided design technician Mr Reeves, from Seaford, near Eastbourne, East Sussex, was among at least 11 people who died in the disaster on Saturday afternoon.

His family said he was combining two of his favourite hobbies of riding his cherished Honda bike to take photographs at the popular air show when the crash happened.

In a statement, they said: "As many times before he had travelled to an airshow and parked up on the outskirts to grab the best photos, but he had never been to the Shoreham Airshow before.

"We will remember him as a gentle, loving, incredibly giving family man, husband to Wendy, father to Luke, granddad to three beautiful granddaughters, brother to Denise and loving son of Ann and Kenneth."

Drawn by a love for the sea, Mr Reeves - described as a "sunworshipper" often seen relaxing with a cocktail in hand on holiday - moved with his family to Seaford nine years ago.

Relatives added: "He will be missed by so many, not least the doctors and staff at the Seaford medical practice where Wendy works, who, like everyone who met Mark, were touched by his generosity, caring nature and overwhelmingly genuine, caring nature.

"We thank everyone who has sent their love, condolences and prayers and while we appreciate that many others will be experiencing similar unspeakable grief in such tragic and public circumstances, (we ask) that we now be allowed to grieve ourselves in private and in peace."

Mr Reeves becomes the seventh person to be named out of at least 11 victims who died in the weekend disaster.

Four other victims include Worthing United footballers and best friends Matthew Grimstone and Jacob Schilt, both 23, who were on their way to play in a match when they were killed.

Personal trainer Matt Jones, 24, also died, along with wedding chauffeur Maurice Abrahams, 76, a former soldier who had served in the Parachute Regiment.

Motorcyclist Mark Trussler and Daniele Polito, a father from Worthing, are both missing and are also feared to have been killed in the tragedy.

The A27 has been closed since the crash, and Sussex Police said it is due to reopen on Bank Holiday Monday.

As hundreds of floral tributes continue to be laid at a bridge near the scene, West Sussex senior coroner Penny Schofield said the formal identification of the victims has begun.

But the plane crashed with such force that specialists - including forensic archaeologists, anthropologists, odontologists and pathologists - are having to examine the DNA, teeth and human remains to discover who was killed .

Ms Schofield said: "Recovery of all the remains from the scene is almost complete due to the extremely hard work and dedication of police teams and archaeologists, who have been working in extremely difficult conditions.

"We will now begin the formal process of identifying all the victims of this horrific tragedy.

"Recovering all the remains has been a very slow and painstaking operation, but it has been necessary to ensure we establish, without doubt, individual positive identifications."

Ms Schofield has met with the families to explain the process and, once identification is complete, she will open inquests into the deaths.

The plane wreckage has been sent to Farnborough, Hampshire, where Air Accidents Investigation Branch (AAIB) investigators will seek to find out what caused the crash. An interim report is due in the next few days.

The jet's pilot, Andrew Hill. was left fighting for his life after the crash, and has now been moved to a specialist hospital for treatment.

Mr Hill had been placed in a medically induced coma at the Royal Sussex County Hospital following the incident, but has now been transferred to an undisclosed unit.

A spokesman for Brighton and Hove NHS Foundation Trust said: "He (Mr Hill) is in a critical but stable condition, but has been moved to an unnamed specialist hospital."

It is believed the jet's seats were in place when it was found, suggesting that Mr Hill may not have ejected before impact.

The plane is understood to have not been carrying a black box flight recorder.

According to the Royal Air Forces Association, Mr Hill was not originally meant to be flying the jet on Saturday.

Chris Heames was listed as the display pilot in the air show's programme, and it was only decided last month that Mr Hill would fly the aircraft instead.

But he told Sky News that performing aerobatics over land was safe and that if allowed, he would continue to do so.

Mr Heames said: "It is a hard time and we're sort of doing our best to support each other and get through it.

"I talked to my wife about it and between us we decided there is no reason not to continue, provided the CAA permit us to do it."

The Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) has announced restrictions on air shows "until further notice" and on the flying of vintage jets in the wake of the crash.

An air show scheduled to take place at Durham Tees Valley Airport on Saturday has been postponed in light of the tragedy.

Skylive Events announced that the disaster, together with the CAA's decision to impose restrictions on the operation of air shows, meant that the event would not be going ahead as scheduled.

It has been rescheduled for Saturday May 28 and tickets issued for this weekend will remain valid for next May.

Tributes continued to be left at a footbridge near the crash site, with hundreds of flower bouquets lining the walkway along with candles, cards, cuddly toys and other offerings.

One left in memory of those who died also added: "My thoughts are with Andy Hill and his family and friends too.

"I met him a long time ago and he would be devastated by Saturday's events."

In a statement, Shoreham Airshow organisers said: "We are devastated by the tragic crash which occurred during this year's air show.

"Our thoughts and sympathies remain with all those who have been affected by the terrible events of the weekend, particularly those who have lost loved ones.

"We are continuing to lend our fullest co-operation to the AAIB and the emergency services.

"We have been overwhelmed by messages of sympathy and support, both from the local community and further afield, and we intend to publish a further statement once the AAIB have released their interim report."

Family members of Mr Jones visited the bridge to lay flowers. They shed tears and embraced as they looked at a section of the walkway which has become something of a shrine in his memory, with scores of floral tributes, cards and bottles of his favourite beers underneath a large banner featuring photos of him.

His father, Stef Jones, said he did not wish to comment, but added: "It is quite sad being here."

They spent a while looking at some of the tributes to the other victims, which now span the whole length of the 150m bridge, and has become a focal point for people wishing to pay their respects.

Moments beforehand, a group of police workers who are part of the investigation team at the crash site, also walked over in a large group to lay flowers. Two female police workers wiped tears from their eyes as they looked at some of the tributes, before a member of the public put his arms around them in a sign of solidarity and offered them words of support.

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